Thursday, October 31, 2013

Serving a Small Plate of Tilapia Salad

small plate of tilapia salad
You don't have to do much to get some tasty going on. This small plate of fish on salad is delicious and nutritious. I quickly grilled some tilapia and the salad is just a quick chop. Squeeze some lemon on top and it's ready.

I find eating on small plates makes for a more intimate relationship with the food. Little plates, little bites, but it all tastes special.

You can always have another plate if you want, but when you start small it satisfies the senses and helps cut back on calories.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sensational Soy Soup-Miso Happy

Miso! Miso!

Having a yummy bowl of soy soup is so satisfying. It's ready in minutes. I chopped up some spinach and added a few carrots to this bowl, but you can add anything you want or nothing at all. The soy paste is a wonderful broth all on its own, or used as a marinade for fish or sauteed dishes. Maybe you just add in some ramen. Tofu is a very popular ingredient. However you fix it, it's one tasty flavor you'll want to keep on hand. Soy bean paste is vitamin and mineral-rich plus high in protein. There are many kinds of miso available. Most American markets carry white, red, and brown miso but if you have a nice Japanese market near by, they have a larger selection. Buy organic!

IMPORTANT TIP:  You don't want to cook your miso paste. Never boil miso. Simmer your desired add-in ingredients in water or stock, dissolve miso in a small amount of water and then combine.

Bowl of miso soup with carrots and spinach

Monday, October 28, 2013

Spicy Hot Link Sausages

My neighbor is a year-round griller. Last May he shared some of what he was cooking and although I don't eat sausage very often, these are so good I asked him to pick some up on his latest run to Costco. Six months may be too long in between visits with these naturally smoked, flavor-filled hot links. They are made in California by Evergood Fine Foods and are fully cooked, gluten free, milk free and egg free. They come packaged in three sets of four hot links for $10.00. A great buy if you want an almost instant meal. Just heat and serve. Mustard, fresh ground black pepper and a few green peppercorns add just enough zip and I'm thinking if you like hot links, you're gonna love this combination.

hot link sausage with mustard and green peppercorns

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Black Bean Nacho Nights

Nachos are a great go-to when you need to feed a crowd some quick delicious. I made two kinds. One without extra cheese on top except for a garnish, and another with crumble crunch tortillas and extra cheese. The only thing that takes a little time is cutting up the ingredients for the salsa fresca.

This salsa just has chopped tomatoes, serrano chili peppers, red peppers, chili flakes, sriracha and a half lemon/lime squeeze. One can of black beans, tortilla strips and some mex-mix cheese is the rest of the party.

Each nine inch pan serves about 4 people.

Close up of nacho ingredientsTasty plate of black bean nachos with melted cheese and home made pico salsaNachos before the bakeBlack Bean Nachos with crunchy crumble tortilla chips and extra cheese

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Joy of a Salad Spinner

I realized while cutting up my veggies for a salad and the ease of washing it all with my salad spinner that it brought me great joy. Truly, great joy. All the colors were playing with my eyes, I could feel their freshness and taste the crunch before I had even taken a bite. Cooking brings so many pleasures, but the amazing array of colors I get to interact with while prepping has to be one of the highlights. This salad spinner has an awesomely bright green insert that is a nice frame to hold everything. My point in writing this, and sharing the image, is to remind you of just how amazing life can be if you stop and see some of the simple wonder right in front of you. There is even satisfaction in pulling the cord to spin out the water, grateful that I have hands that offer me the ability to do so. Oh, I know... it all sounds a bit Polly-Anna but I think she knew how to see things in a happy light. And I do too. Take a moment today and spin some fresh thinking in to your heart. It can be right in front of you, just waiting to be noticed.

Salad spinner and Fresh Salad Ingredients

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fastest Frozen Pizza in the West

I try new products as they come on the market and this new pizza from Safeway® is excellent. It's a Margherita with a wood-fired crust. Hand-Stretched and baked in Italian wood-burning ovens. (it's a product of Italy) and cooks in 7-8 minutes. Adding a few toppings always enhances these store bought pizzas, and gives it a more homemade look and taste. For this first taste test I used a spoonful of marinara and meat sauce, a tomato slice, some basil, chives and asiago sprinkles on the mozzarella rounds which are on each slice. Then I tossed on a few more tomato bits. It was delicious. I don't know for sure, but I think this is the fastest cooking time for a frozen pizza and one I would buy again. If you have a Safeway near you, I give this a complete thumbs up and think you will too. As a base pizza that you add toppings to, or one straight out of the's a wood-fired winner. Keep a few on hand when you need a quick fix.

New Safeway Wood-Fired Frozen Margherita Pizza with extra toppings

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cranberry Harvest is On-Relish the Season

It's here, it's here! It's cranberry time. One of my favorite things to make with cranberries is a mix for salad dressing. Once I cook the cranberries, a simple mix of water and sugar to taste, I freeze the sauce to use it all year long. If you prefer, you can just freeze the whole bag of berries and make what you need, but I like having it on hand for quick and easy dressing or a saucy glaze. For the salad dressing, mix a large spoonful of cranberry relish in to vinegar and olive oil for a bright burst of flavor.

So, go out and get some cranberries now, before it's too late.

TIP: Before you freeze it, you'll want to put it through a strainer if it's a more chunky sauce, or cook it a little longer, and crush the berries to thin it down.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tasty Mistakes Take a Shot at Convention

Chili SIde Shot in a cordial glass
Just a quick post about tasty mistakes. Today a friend was fixing spaghetti for lunch and did not like the jar sauce taste. It's a good sauce overall, but was not meeting her taste buds with satisfaction.

What to do...I took the basic sauce and a few things that were on hand to recreate it in to chili side shots topped with cheese and chives.

I've posted my chili preferences earlier, but this new twist is nice.

Made from the marinara sauce base, it had a creamy, yummy, extra smooth flavor I had not previously achieved.

It's extra fun in the glass. Serve as a side shot...the mouth of the cordial glass is just big enough for a spoon. Dress it up a bit with a chive garnish, and it's a "V' for victory.

cheese and chive topping with garnish

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Steamed Spinach Sandwich with Crunchy Carrots and Pumpkin Seeds

steamed spinach sando on whole wheat with crunchy carrots and pumpkin seeds
Time to lighten up your lunch with some crunch. Steam some spinach, and squeeze out the moisture. Form it in to a nice
pattie and place it on the lightly toasted whole wheat bun. Top with carrot slices, pumpkin seeds and a little of your favorite cheese.
Sprinkle a few red pepper flakes and it's ready to eat.

You can make the spinach ahead and put it in the fridge.

This is delicious hot or cold.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tomato Soup Mac & Cheese

kids meals-tomato soup mac & cheese

Keep it simple for the kids. Make your Mac & Cheese.
Add in a few spoons of tomato soup.
Top with a few greens and some happy cheese.
Ready to serve in minutes.
Get your kids to make this for themselves.
They will feel proud of it and enjoy the simple pleasure.
Add any other ingredients you like.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Poached Tilapia in Butter and Lemon Juice Bath with Spinach and Tomatoes

Prepping for success.Spinach, Tomatoes and Lemon Ice
This is a really quick meal to put together and deliciously fresh. Doing the prep ahead makes it a lot easier. Fortunately, I have a lovely Meyer lemon tree and also some frozen lemon ice from the last harvest.

Hand selecting and de-stemming the spinach takes a little time, as does the chiffonade but it's all worth it.

The tomatoes are simple slicing and then I de-seed. Putting them in a bowl keeps them all in one place and then I add the water. Cleaning out all the seeds and draining the water a few times to make sure I have not missed any.

Using a non-stick pan, I melt the butter and then add in the lemon ice shavings. Next, I put the boneless, skinless Tilapia fillet in the pan, cover with a lid and let it cook slowly. Once it's tender, I add in the spinach and tomatoes at the last minute for a very quick steam. (The spinach is sliced so thin, it can even cook itself on the plated fish)

Poached Tilapia with Spinach and Tomatoes
Carefully plate your fish with a broad spatula. The fish is very tender and can break apart if you are not careful. Then pour the lemon and butter sauce onto your plate.

Serve with a mini side salad topped with asiago and about three or four drips of ranch dressing. Rim the salad with some of your fresh spinach.

Finish with freshly grated pepper and a squeeze of lemon to taste.

TIP: If you have some broken pieces or actually prefer that to this formal setting, it still looks and tastes great.

Plus, if you have some leftovers, it's great over a crisp salad or in a fish taco.

PS. These are frozen Tilapia that are individually wrapped. Perfect for either single or group servings at the last minute.
Read To Chef Spinach
Meyer Lemon Ice Shavings topped with lemon slice

Monday, October 7, 2013

Glorious Goat Cheese-Chèvre

glorious goat cheese on a salad
Lower in fat & calories than cow's milk and higher in protein, this good for your brain food is also a great source of other nutrients—amino acid, tryptophan, phosphorus, riboflavin, potassium, B6, vitamin A and selenium. It's easier to digest than cow's milk, making it possible for even the lactose intolerant to enjoy this delicious boost of calcium.

Goat Cheese is thought to be the forerunner of all cheeses. It's been around for thousands of years but it was first marketed in France in 1935 with a safety guarantee for the consumer.

Thank you to the nomadic hunters who created this cheese and to the over 100 producers today who have made its flavor a fine art.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Hearty Bowls of Stew to Warm your Heart

Serving up some stew

Casual Comfort from the Kitchen.

Making stew is a comfort in and of itself. Taking a little time with yourself to cut up your veggies and potatoes is a quiet pleasure. I slow cook the meat in the oven on a rack.  Just underneath is a celery tops and carrots water steam bath to infuse the meat. (covered tightly with foil) I check the water level every so often to make sure it's still enough to keep steaming. It cooks for a couple of hours and then I let it rest. Next, I cut the meat up into bite size cubes and flour them before I brown-sear the pieces. Once that's
complete, I toss everything in the pot with a stew broth base and let it cook for a good long time. I like to keep the veggie and potatoes on the firm side, so I do some that will cook with the stew and then add the rest toward the end to keep some crisp brightness.

For extra flavor I cut all the scrap off the cooked roast and simmer and sear the pieces for the juices and fond. If you like a thicker stew broth, mix some flour and water in a separate pan until it's a nice and smooth consistency and then add it into your stew. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Plating Steak and Sides

Ribeye Steak with green beans and potatoes

When steak is the main attraction, serving a small side of green beans and roasted potatoes is all your need to round out the plate. Timing everything to be ready at the same time takes a little practice. The potatoes crisp up quickly if you cut them into bite size pieces, but that's where you want to start. Next, get your grilling going so you can concentrate on cooking the green beans to perfection. When you are ready to make the second turn on the meat, get your water boiling (use a steamer if you like). Now, back to the grill for your additional turns, and then set the meat to rest. Pop in your beans for a few minutes until they are bright green and to the tenderness you like. By now, your potatoes are ready. Your beans are finished, your steak is juicy and you're ready to plate up some delicious.